I'm no stox jock, but here are some thoughts...Bombardier is a massively cyclical stock, which means you live and die by global economic conditions. That pretty much explains why the stock is down about 20% this year. France Telecom is way outside my zone. With individual stocks, I stick to U.S. and Canadian names only.
TD Waterhouse discount brokerage is an ideal platform to use the TD e-fund series, which are very low-fee index funds available only online (TD branches barely know what they are). Start with e-series funds and then, as you become more knowledgeable and proficiant at investing, you can think about branching into exchange-traded funds or individual stocks. Frankly, e-series funds are all you need, really, and that rules out all other brokers because they don't offer these funds.
S.O., I once had an adviser at a big, bank-owned firm. I ended up with a bunch of useless mutual funds and knew I had to get out. So what I did was open an account with the online brokerage arm of the same bank. I've kept that account over the years, but have a familiarity with a few other brokers because I help relatives with their accounts at these firms. I also have dummy accounts at several firms to help me see what they're offering to clients.
Garth, scroll down this discussion to find a link to a column I wrote with some ideas on what types of accounts are best for U.S. stocks. As to your other questions:
-U.S. stocks do not qualify for the dividend tax credit
-you can set up a $US non-registered account, so that you can buy U.S. stocks and hold them in U.S. dollars. some brokers also offer $US registered accounts - BMO InvestorLine, Qtrade, Questrade, RBC Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers.
mb, it's up to you to keep track of your capital gains and losses. Most firms issue an annual trading summary that may help with that.
Pretty much all firms offer no-fee TFSA accounts, but Questrade is a perfectly fine choice of a broker overall. As for your investment choice, it's hard to comment because I don't know anything about your personal situation. That said, I think dividend growth is an excellent investing strategy. ETFs that use this approach would, by extension, be worth a look.
AJC, that's an easy one because only two brokers offer online access to international markets. One is HSBC InvestDirect, and the other is TD Waterhouse. I'd go with TDW - it's a much better all-around firm. Note: Other brokers may offer access to global markets, but you have to deal with a representative over the phone and commissions may be higher for that.
Tony, glad you asked that one. For those who don't know, BMO InvestorLine has introduced an advice option costing 1% of your account value. You get online/phone assistance in picking investments, and in maintaining your portfolio over time. I think 1% is pricey - I wish BMO had come in at 0.5%. That said, I think adviceDirect could be well worthwhile for an investor who wants some autonomy, but also some informed input. If you used individual stocks and ETFs in your account, the 1% could be a decent value if you got solid help.
RS, the short answer to your question is Yes. Qtrade has a list of about 60 ETFs that you can buy or sell at no cost. Can't say the list of commission-free ETFs includes all the best choices, but there's enough variety there to build a solid, low-cost portfolio. Of course, you can have a portfolio of mutual funds and ETFs together. No reason not to pair them up, as long as your mutual funds aren't closet indexers (hold the same stocks as the benchmark indexes that ETFs track).
dc, this is a good question because it allows me to make a clarification regarding Vanguard products. The firm's low-cost mutual funds are not available in Canada. However, Vanguard does offer a family of ETFs for Canadian investors and they're listed on the TSX. A bigger selection of Vanguard ETFs are listed on the NYSE and are, of course, available to Canadians as well. Vanguard ETFs are slowly gather momentum in Canada; in the U.S, they're proven quite popular because of their super low fees.
Grant, the systematic withdrawl plan offered on the former Claymore ETFs, now owned by iShares, could be a good option for someone who wants to live off his or her investments and not have returns dragged down by commissions. That said, some brokers have commissions as low as $1 to $4.95.
AJC, if you're worried about best pricing then you might want to consider routing your own orders. Virtual Brokers, Questrade give clients lots of flexibility in this regard, and other brokers may address this in the services they provide active traders. That's not an area of expertise for me as I focus on mainstream investors.
dc, don't have a quick answer for you on that. I'm going to make sure it gets answered in my next ranking of online brokers.